The idea of the solar car is relatively new on the market and holds very real promise. If successful, the solar car will offer the ability to drive anywhere without burning any environmentally damaging fuels.

Are Solar-Powered Cars the Future?
Are Solar-Powered Cars the Future?

Brooke Faulkner

When we think of major environmental issues facing our world today, we often think of the tremendous impact that the human-caused increase in carbon dioxide emissions has had. It is impossible to overlook the impact that cars and many other forms of modern transportation have had on these levels. Cars in particular have played a disproportionate role in many of our complicated pollution and energy problems.

Because of this substantial impact, many working toward the reduction of traditional energy sources in favor of more sustainable alternatives are focusing their efforts on developing a better vehicle. Numerous designs and alternatives ranging from public transportation models to reduce the number of vehicles to carpooling apps have been tested, and some have even had some level of success in the marketplace. One of the more promising designs that sticks to an American “driver-oriented” lifestyle is the solar car.

The idea of the solar car is relatively new on the market and holds very real promise. If successful, the solar car will offer the ability to drive anywhere without burning any environmentally damaging fuels or needed to plug in for a charge; it runs completely, as the name suggests, on solar energy. It is an extremely tantalizing idea for those of us looking to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint.

 

Modern Day Transportation Issues

Any environmentally conscious person is fully aware of the profound impact of having so many standard cars on the road. Private vehicles are estimated to contribute upwards of 73 percent of transportation-based pollution. With a rapidly growing world population, the number of cars on the road is expected to triple by 2035.

Obviously, this expected growth will be a profound issue in a world that is already choked by exhaust and other forms of pollution resulting from the widespread use of the modern engine. Car exhaust can have a number of chemical substances in it that are damaging to human health as well, including things such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and others. These chemicals can lead to profound health and environmental issues in high concentrations, but even in standard exposure amounts they have been linked to an increased rate of asthma and other chronic conditions.

There have certainly been advances in the modern car recently, and many of them are promising. For instance, the development of the hybrid and electrical cars with charging stations have made strides in creating a more sustainable driving landscape. Unfortunately, many of these options are still cost prohibitive or do not do enough to turn the tide.

 

Enter the Solar Car

The development of the idea for solar cars is one of the many great ideas that come from sustainable engineering. Of course the development has not been without its many learning moments. For example, one of the first solar panels placed on a Toyota Prius only improved the gas mileage by approximately 4 miles per gallon. Unfortunately, that is not much of an improvement for the price.

Although there was significant room for improvement, there are too many benefits associated with solar cars to let the idea simply fade into the background. The obvious benefit of the reduction of dangerous carbon dioxide and other chemical release is a big one. But additional benefits that could give the solar car the edge is the ability to constantly recharge without the need to stop at a charging station.

This offers the ultimate form of independence for drivers all across the globe. There are few things more alluring than thinking about the ability to jump in the car, only having to stop when you wanted to, and to skip paying for things like gas altogether. So much extra trip money would be available! The only limitation for your next cross-country road trip would be your imagination — and, well, driver’s fatigue.

 

Are Solar Cars in Our Future?

Solar cars are quickly becoming a reality that many are very excited about. In fact, the first solar vehicle may hit the road in 2019. The technology is still somewhat in its infancy and needs to have some time to work out unexpected issues. However, solar cars could be on their way to regular people’s driveways in the near future.

One Dutch company has already put a vehicle to the test. It averaged a speed of 69 kilometers per hour and was able to travel across Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. While doing so, it was even able to resupply the grid and power some of the areas that it passed through.

This information indicates that a future solar car may be able to not only supply itself for either short trips to and from work or long trips across the country, but may also be able to play a role in contributing to the world power supply. This is big news considering some of the major issues associated with the world’s growing power needs. Modern technologies are coming a long way.

There are a number of significant health and environmental problems associated with the current status quo in transportation. Although still in early stages of their development, solar cars offer real promise and a way forward in combating these issues. Early models are promising, and it may not be long before the solar car becomes a regular sight on a road near you.

 
 
* Image Source: Pixabay
 
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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